By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Psychosis has four typical features with the two main ones being hallucination and delusion. The symptoms of psychosis include:
This is a feature of psychosis where the person hears, sees or even smells things that are not present in reality. Voices heard in the head or auditory hallucination is the most common type of hallucination seen in psychosis. Typically, patients with auditory hallucinations hear voices that are sarcastic, angry or reprimanding.
Visual hallucination refers to when a person sees something that is not really present. Patients may complain of seeing imaginary animals, creatures, aliens or shapes, for example. Another type of hallucination is tactile hallucination, where a patient physically sense the presence of something which does not exist, such as the feeling of insects crawling over the skin.
Other hallucinations include olfactory hallucination, which refers to the sensation of an unpleasant or unknown smell and gustatory hallucination, which refers to the detection of a nonexistent taste in the mouth.
Delusion is a feature of psychosis where a person believes something that is not true, such as believing a certain person or organization is trying to follow and harm them. This belief is referred to as a paranoid delusion.
This may lead to emotional outbursts or unusual behavior. Another type of delusion is "delusion of grandeur" where a person feels he or she has imaginary powers or believes they are superior to others.
Confused or disturbed thoughts
Confused or disturbed thoughts may manifest and cause a person to have rapid speech that may be garbled or switch rapidly between topics. The train of thought may stop suddenly, resulting in an abrupt stop in conversation.
Lack of awareness or lack of insight
A person with psychosis may be unable to understand that they have a problem or that they are behaving in an unusual manner. People with psychosis can recognise similar symptoms in others but fail to recognize it in themselves.
Psychotic symptoms may also occur after a woman gives birth to her baby, after which she may suddenly begin to hallucinate, experience extreme mood swings and require psychiatric hospitalization. This is also called puerperal psychosis.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2014